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NEX Gas Station Closes for Cemetery Expansion

by ARLnow.com | December 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm | 4,573 views | 26 Comments

It’s still in the early planning and funding stages, but a proposed realignment of Columbia Pike and expansion of Arlington National Cemetery has produced its first tangible change.

The Navy Exchange/Quarters K gas station on S. Joyce Street, near the Pentagon, closed for good about a month ago. The Navy Times reports that the station will eventually be demolished as part of the cemetery expansion plan.

The expansion is being made possible by a 2008 land swap deal between Arlington County and the federal government. At some point after 2011, the county will exchange a 4.3 acre parcel of land along Southgate Road — which runs from Henderson Hall to the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Joyce Street — for 4.3 acres of land on the present Navy Annex site along Columbia Pike.

The county is eying the western portion of the Navy Annex, which will be shuttered and torn down, for a proposed Freedman’s Village heritage center and black history museum. The federal government, meanwhile, plans to eliminate Southgate Road to make way for the aforementioned planned expansion of Arlington National Cemetery.

Another aspect of the expansion plan is playing out in the halls of congress. Arlington’s congressional delegation has been seeking funding for a realignment of Columbia Pike between the Air Force Memorial and S. Joyce Street. The proposed project would eliminate a sharp bend in the road that routes it closer to the cemetery. Instead, the proposed realignment would take the Pike on a more direct path to Joyce Street, through what is now a Defense Department parking lot.

The project promises to “provide additional contiguous expansion space for the Cemetery” while enhancing the streetscape and resulting in “significant improvements in safety, mobility and economic development along the Columbia Pike Corridor.”

Congressman Jim Moran’s office confirmed that the Pike realignment was still in the planning stage but was unable to provide an approximate timeline for the project due to uncertainties regarding funding.

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  • Swag

    “The county is eying the western portion of the Navy Annex, which will be shuttered and torn down, for a proposed Freedman’s Village heritage center and black history museum.”

    Because selling the land and making a profit isn’t nearly as fun as building something that, while nice and all, wouldn’t be worth the price.

    • Greg

      I think the intentions are good, but this is a horrible idea. The Smithsonian is breaking ground on the Mall next year for a major African American history museum. Arlington’s proposal is going to be another Artisphere by comparison.

      The County needs to rethink what they can do to remember Freedman’s Village, without building a museum.

    • JohnB

      The deal with DOD is that the land next to the Navy Annex must be used for a county facility. It cannot be used for private residences or private commercial uses.

      • FrenchyB

        Good point. It would be rather unseemly to add a new commercial enterprise next to what will soon be part of the cemetery.

      • Novanglus

        Greg’s right that a county-run museum would become another Artisphere. They’re better off turning this land into a park, and helping a non-profit turn a nearby house into a museum: http://www.arlnow.com/2011/03/16/you-can-own-history-but-its-a-fixer-upper/

      • NPGMBR

        Exactly. When this plan was first announced many years ago, that was the County’s idea. To use the land for a hotel overlooking the cemetery. Im not keen on the idea of the museum but definitely disagree with them putting a hotel or residences there. My god this plan has been in the works since I moved here in 95.

    • Grognak

      Everything mentioned in this article is secondary to the main issue driving this project: Zimmy’s Trolley can not navigate the grade changes and curves of the current Columbia Pike alignment.

      That is the only reason the County needs to realign the Pike. Everything else is just window dressing and lip service to special interests.

      How much will Zimmy’s Trolley cost? Start the adding machine tape with this project.

      • Dave

        Ah that makes sense. I missed your comment and said below (4:26 pm) that the whole safety and economic development rationale didn’t make sense to me.

        • South Arlington

          The rationale is that the streetcar will drive economic development. It already is:

          “The planned Columbia Pike streetcar was also a deciding factor in launching the restaurant.
          “We’ve been waiting for it. I think it’s going to be really, really cool when it comes through,” said Lubar. “That was one of the selling points to this area, that that should be down here some day. I think connecting this area with Fairfax and making it a little more Metro accessible can only help develop this whole area.””

          And you can bet Penrose Square, the Halstead and the Siena Park buildings would never have been built if it wasn’t for the streetcar plans.

          • Grognak

            Really? Never had been built? All of Columbia Pike would have just remained stagnant without rumors of a streetcar? Can I point you to many places in Arlington where new development has occurred where there are no plans for new public transportation?

            Wow, the Kool Aid flows freely in Arlington apparently.

            But thanks for admitting the link between this civil engineering task and the streetcar. Can we start adding this cost as a cost impact of the streetcar?

  • 1234

    This also means there’s no commercial biodiesel available inside the beltway . . .

  • Jim

    This was the only place in the county to get retail BioDiesel and some other alternative fuels.

    • bred

      Isn’t the only place, other than some county owed location, which E85 is available? And to add, I’d guess not the the general public, but I don’t know about that.

  • Don Ager

    Put a park there, either ornamental or recreational, and name it after the Freedman’s Village and put up a beautiful statue or sculpture in their honor. There you go.
    Museums are over rated and often underused, especially in the shadow of the Smithsonian across the river and at Dulles. A named park will draw attention to the history and can tie in poignantly with Arlington National Cemetery’s racial history.

  • G Clifford Prout

    OH PLEASE just a park. I thought that was the original idea anyway. (or at least that is what I saw in the plans for the AF memorial.)

    Heritage Center = Boondoggle

  • Dave

    I’m having a hard time picturing how straightening out the curve around the AF Memorial would result in “significant improvements in safety, mobility and economic development”. The curve isn’t dangerous (safety) and doesn’t really hamper travel (mobility). As for economic development, the parking lot that would be turned into Columbia Pike is two blocks at best, and there wouldn’t really be much room on either side to build anything.

    Just say the road is being straightened out to keep it away from the cemetary. I don’t see why they felt the need to make up other reasons.

  • charlie

    bemoan the lack of biodiesel.
    the streetcar used to run up that back street…

  • Arlingtron

    It will be sad to lose this place. I am sure many naively stopped in after coming to the area to get gas or snack only to discover it’s for DOD only. It was good place to get alternative fuels, which were available to the public. I filled company trucks with biodeisel. What I will remember most is that this became a refuge for me and my media colleagues in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack. We did live shots for days and the management relented on the snack selling restrictions.

  • DarkHeart

    Are they eliminating the curve so the AF memorial will have more room to figure out why the hill keeps collapsing?

  • Deborah Critzer

    Only place in the area to buy E85. Gone. Brilliant.

    • charlie

      it is a clear violation of the County’s new Community Energy Plan — let’s encourage people to get alternative fuel vehicles and then let us remove all the places that they can buy it — The Arlington Way strikes again. Strike out, that is.

  • T

    Thank god! This private gas station on a public Arlington County street has pissed me off ever since they took it away from us in the early 90′s. If I recall correctly it was a Gulf station that also had U-Haul rentals. It was also one of the only gas stations in the Pentagon City area.

    • Rick

      There’s always the Crystal City exxon! Pull up, get in line, go next door and get a table dance, come back and… still be in line.

      • Brian

        Agree with Rick and T… the P City area is woefully underserved for gas – unless you’re in the military you could never go to this and had to fight 7/11 congestion and Kabob creeps at the Crystal city Exxon. Good riddance to this “Members Only” gas station, but damn, wish a real gas station would be on its way.

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